The Ilokano Language: History, Culture and Structure: From Language to Philosophy (Last Part)

What we see in language in the synthesized thought of a community thinking, and thinking so hard for centuries. We are all inheritors of this kind of thinking, the thinking that has something to do with how we understand ourselves, how we understand others, and how we understand the universe.

Take the case of the Ilokanos.

The Ilokano cosmology and cosmogony, or at least some portions of them, depend on the sun and the wind in many ways, with the sun dictating which is east and west, and with the wind instructing us which is north and which is south.

These concepts did not go the way of accidents—but a result of a self-reflection of the connection of man to his universe, with the sun telling us ‘daya’ and ‘laud’—the daya a substitution of the ‘r’ and ‘d’ to account the rays of the sun (‘raya’/ ‘daya’) and the ‘laud’, the sea, the ‘laut’ (again the ‘d’ and the ‘t’) so that for the Ilokano, the concepts are invariable: east is where the ‘raya’ comes out—the ‘daya’; and west is where the sea is, the ‘laud’.

The wind directions are instructive as well as these bespeak of what kind of wind is coming from which part: the amian, the north wind, is where the ‘amianan’ is, i.e., the north; and the south wind, the souther or the southerly, is the abagat, the root of the concept ‘south’ in Ilokano, ‘abagatan’.

From these ordinary examples whose meanings are no longer accessible on an everyday basis to many people, we glimpse a complex mind that is at work here. Even from the folklores and mythologies of the Ilokanos, we see the same richness of the language. The concept of the four souls, for instance, as written about by Isabelo de los Reyes, is a powerful break from the Aristotelian notion of the ‘hylemorphe’, the very same philosophy that grounds the classical notion of philosophical psychology espoused by St. Thomas Aquinas, which is the official philosophy of the Catholic Church and which philosophy provided an ‘ancilla’ position to official church doctrine since the medieval times until today.

The Ilokano way of accounting nature, for instance, is quite different from the understanding of the West, with nature, following a knife-like ‘distinguo’ technique eventually bifurcating into whether it is God (natura naturans, the nature that creates) and creation (natura naturata, the nature that is created). Here, we see things differently: nature is plain and simple ‘nakaparsuaan’, with ‘parsua’ serving as your root, and with all the affixes at play: ‘naka’ and ‘an.’

The same holds for the Ilokano notion of justice: ‘kinalinteg’, with the abstraction marked off by the prefix ‘kina’ to account that justice is ‘straightness’ and must be so: not crooked, not warped, not twisted—but ‘nalinteg’ (straight).

Krauss holds that “languages contain the intellectual wisdom of populations of people. They contain their observations of and adaptations to the world around them.”

The adaptations that we see are the same system of adaptations that we see in the diversity of the elements that sustain human life. Interdependency is the key here, as is the very key to the reality of biodiversity. Krauss adds:  “Humanity became human in a complex system of languages that interacted with each other.”

If this interdependence is lost, we have the result: “…we lose sections of it at the same peril that we lose sections of the biosphere.” Any loss is catastrophic: “Every time we lose (a language), we lose that much also of our adaptability and our diversity that gives us our strength and our ability to survive.”

From this we see a clear lesson: that the Ilokano language cannot adopt a position of supremacy nor of superiority even if it serves as the lingua franca of the Amianan.#